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Commercialization or Engagement: Which Is of More Significance to the U.S. Economy ?


  • Kenney, Martin


Beginning with the commercialization of genetic engineering (biotechnology) research beginning in the late 1970s and the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act, U.S. university administrators quickly built technology licensing (transfer) offices meant to commercialize inventions made by their researchers. By studying technology transfer in electrical engineering and computer science, statistics and mathematics, scientific instruments, and agriculture, this article demonstrates that biotechnology model does not accurately portray the ways in which most university technology is transferred to society. The application of the biotechnology/technology licensing office model to other university disciplines may stifle the diffusion of technology to society due to undue restrictions in the flow of technology; both from the university to society and, as important, the flow of ideas and resources from society to the university. Finally, it cautions against making wholesale changes in current institutional arrangements on the basis of the current U.S.-centric model based on biotechnology. For European policy-makers, the temptation to follow the U.S biotechnology-derived model may disrupt long-standing and quite successful channels of information transfer, while not bringing the supposed benefits of the U.S. model. This is particularly true because research on European university technology transfer is still at a very early stage

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  • Kenney, Martin, 2013. "Commercialization or Engagement: Which Is of More Significance to the U.S. Economy ?," ETLA Working Papers 13, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:rif:wpaper:13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacobsson, Staffan & Lindholm-Dahlstrand, Åsa & Elg, Lennart, 2013. "Is the commercialization of European academic R&D weak?—A critical assessment of a dominant belief and associated policy responses," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 874-885.
    2. Scott Shane, 2002. "Selling University Technology: Patterns from MIT," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 122-137, January.
    3. Klevorick, Alvin K. & Levin, Richard C. & Nelson, Richard R. & Winter, Sidney G., 1995. "On the sources and significance of interindustry differences in technological opportunities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 185-205, March.
    4. Shahid Yusuf & Kaoru Nabeshima, 2007. "How Universities Promote Economic Growth," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6631.
    5. Albert N. Link & Donald S. Siegel & Barry Bozeman, 2007. "An empirical analysis of the propensity of academics to engage in informal university technology transfer ," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(4), pages 641-655, August.
    6. Baldini, Nicola & Grimaldi, Rosa & Sobrero, Maurizio, 2006. "Institutional changes and the commercialization of academic knowledge: A study of Italian universities' patenting activities between 1965 and 2002," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 518-532, May.
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    9. Perkmann, Markus & Tartari, Valentina & McKelvey, Maureen & Autio, Erkko & Broström, Anders & D’Este, Pablo & Fini, Riccardo & Geuna, Aldo & Grimaldi, Rosa & Hughes, Alan & Krabel, Stefan & Kitson, Mi, 2013. "Academic engagement and commercialisation: A review of the literature on university–industry relations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 423-442.
    10. Grimaldi, Rosa & Kenney, Martin & Siegel, Donald S. & Wright, Mike, 2011. "30 years after Bayh-Dole: Reassessing academic entrepreneurship," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1045-1057, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luukkonen, Terttu, 2014. "Universities, Funding Systems, and the Renewal of the Industrial Knowledge Base: UNI Project Findings," ETLA Reports 33, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.

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